Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Saturday, 26 September 2015

The Wheatear in the skate-park.

I will always remember the first time I saw a Wheatear.

I was a young lad on holiday in Cornwall with my family. We always used to holiday in Autumn due to my fathers work commitments, much to the annoyance of my sister, who used to moan about walking on Bodmin moor in the pouring rain when her friends were enjoying Summer beach holidays in the south of Spain!
  For me, walking on Bodmin moor in the pouring rain was just about the perfect holiday!
  On rare days, the sun would come out, and we'd head to Holywell Bay near Newquay to spend a day by the beach instead, temporarily putting a semi-smile on my sisters face.
   Back in those days, Holywell Bay just had a basic car park and a small beach shop, which would invariably be closed for the off-season by the time we arrived!
 There was a small stream that ran past the car park and snaked it's way down to the sea. Beyond the stream was heathy countryside with open areas of short grass. During one September I was scanning the car park surroundings with my binoculars when they fell upon an unusual bird stood in the middle of one of the open grassy areas, tail bobbing, holding it's Robin-sized body as tall and as proud as it could!

A Wheatear!!

Wow! It was one of those magical birding moments as a child, a real thrill to see a bird in the flesh that I had only ever seen in books before! This was a male, slate grey/blue back, buffy-white belly and black 'mask' around it's face. What a handsome bird! After a few minutes, it turned and flew out of sight, flashing the bright unmistakable white rump.
  My day had been made. I was buzzing....... and the Wheatear became one of my favourite birds from that moment on!

Yesterday I came across a female Wheatear at the skate-park besides Cheddar Reservoir. (Above)

I immediately felt a similar buzz to that I felt as a child, although this time it had more to do with the fact I had a great potential photographic opportunity! Despite almost my whole life of loving these birds, I'd never actually got any decent shots of one, bar a single shot of a male at Sand Point last year.
  This female must've sensed this, as it was very confiding and posed beautifully for me in the skate-park, helped by a conveniently sunny morning, giving great light! As a consequence I pushed the Shutter speed of my Nikon D7200 up to 2500 and then 3200. I wanted to catch an action shot of it hunting insects and risked the higher ISO and possible 'noise' in order to do this! My Sigma 150-600mm lens has an aperture of 6.3 at 600mm so needs higher ISOs when the Shutter is turned up high. 
   I got lucky when I caught the moment the Wheatear was just about to take a Cranefly;

I was thrilled with this shot, although I bemoaned the fact I wasn't a bit taller as the wall was hiding her legs! Still, beggars can't be choosers!

 I preceded to take as many pictures of this beautiful bird as I could, and she didn't mind my presence at all, even flying to within a couple of feet of me to take a fly in the grass! 
  It was a wonderful experience, one I'll never forget!

Below are many more pictures I took..... I just couldn't help myself! Hope you enjoy them as much as I did taking them!

I know, some very similar pics, but I just couldn't choose between them!!

Thank you for looking!

If you are on Facebook you can 'like' my nature photography page here;

I also have a new Twitter account of my nature photography here;